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Dimensional Weight – The Dark Matter of Shipping
Have you ever scheduled freight for shipment, only to have your forwarder come back and tell you that the “chargeable weight” was three or four times more than the shipment weighed in your warehouse?
What the heck is going on here? Is your forwarder some kind of crook? Hopefully not. Odds are, your freight was subject to dimensional weight charges.
Dimensional weight, also known as “volumetric weight”, is a unit of measure that has been adopted worldwide by the transportation industry to account for the space occupied by cargo in the hold of an aircraft, truck or ocean vessel. Essentially, it protects the carrier from catastrophic losses that would occur on low weight, high volume cargo if freight were only charged by gross weight. While it has been used historically for air freight shipments, and to a lesser extent trucking, a form of volumetric weight can also be applied to ocean shipments as well.
HOW TO CALCULATE DIMENSIONAL WEIGHT
So how do you calculate this dimensional weight thing? The answer, like so many things in life is, it depends.
Air Freight Calculations
First, let’s look at air freight. That is where the concept of dimensional weight, or “dim weight”, originated. There are two primary means of calculating dimensional weight: international and domestic. The international calculation differs, primarily to account for the difference in operating costs for domestic versus long-distance international flights. The two calculations used are as follows:
Domestic Air Freight (inches): (Length x Width x Height) / 194
International Air Freight (inches): (Length x Width x Height) / 166
The 194 or 166 denominator is what is commonly referred to as the “dim factor”.
As an example, international shipping on a standard 48 x 40 x 60 inch pallet weighing 300 pounds, would be charged at a dimensional rate of 694 pounds: (48 x 40 x 60)/166.
There are also separate formulas for centimeters/kilograms for those of you who speak metric, but let’s not confuse things here.
Interestingly, shipments to Hawaii, Alaska and Guam are normally charged at the “domestic rate”. I’ve never understood the rationale for that one.
by Paige Cotcamp
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